While 11 firefighters were reported injured battling the blaze, and dozens of residents are now looking for a place to stay, nobody was seriously hurt.
The cause of the fire is still unknown.
Arthur Rabich said he first started smelling smoke in his home at 78-15 68th Ave. at around 7 p.m. He said his wife suggested checking the airshaft near the bedroom roughly 30 minutes later. That’s when it all began.
“I went to the window and opened the blinds, and baboom!” he said Tuesday afternoon. “A fireball went right up, and that was it.”
He said the fire started in the airshaft between his home and his neighbor at 78-13 68th Ave., and that firefighters told him it must have been smoldering for “at least seven hours.”
“As soon as I saw the fireball I got everyone out,” he said.
Both his wife and 26-year-old daughter were home.
Rabich said he is in between changing insurance companies and lost nearly everything in his home. However, he was still grateful that no one was seriously injured or killed.
“We saved some of her clothes that didn’t get wet or nothing,” he said. “But nobody was hurt, thank god.”
Konstantino Caporal was watching television with his family next door when he heard Rabich out front calling for help.
“I came out and my friend Artie over here was saying, ‘get your kids out, get your wife out, there’s a fire,’” Caporal recalled. “I got my dog, one cat, and the one cat that was stuck in there during the fire survived.”
Caporal, who has lived on the block for the last 10 years, is now staying in a hotel and currently looking for a rental while cleanup crews and workers finish the repairs.
His daughter Caitlin said she was happy no one was hurt.
“I’m relieved we found our other cat,” she said. “It was important that the fire happened earlier rather than when we were sleeping.”